John Noble promises that Fringe fans are going to love the big finish.
"History will judge it as one of the great TV finales of all time," he says.
Noble -- who stars as mad scientist Walter Bishop on the reality-bending, time-tripping sci-fi series -- is biased, of course.
He's one of the biggest Fringe fans of them all.
Still, he's hoping that loyal, longtime viewers see this week's farewell episodes -- at 7 and 8 p.m. Friday on Fox -- as a time not to mourn the cancellation of their favorite show, but rather to celebrate that they got to enjoy so much of it.
Network TV series with rock-bottom ratings like Fringe rarely get 100-episode, five-year runs and carefully planned finales. They just get yanked off the airwaves when fed-up execs decide it's time to stop the bleeding.
Fringe's salvation all these years has been its innovative storytelling and brilliant acting.
Fringe created a world -- then added a parallel, alternate world and then added a bleak future world on top of that -- in which anything and everything is possible.
A solid cast, headed up by Noble, Anna Torv (as Agent Olivia Dunham of the FBI Fringe Division) and Joshua Jackson (as Peter Bishop, Walter's son), then made the implausible story compelling and believable.
And now the finale wraps it all up, every last tangled thread of plot, be it science- or relationship-driven, in what Noble assures will be the most satisfying way imaginable.
Noble remembers opening that finale script, written by executive producer J.H. "Joel" Wyman, with apprehension. What if it didn't measure up to his high expectations?
"Then I read it and I was like, 'Oh, my goodness, me. He's done it. He's done it! He's answered all these questions and he's tied up all these things, our character lines, the great story arc,'" Noble says. "I couldn't imagine a better job, to be honest. I was extremely elated when I read the final episodes."
When Noble landed the role of Walter Bishop in 2008, he was marginally known as an Australian actor who played Denethor in the "Lord of the Rings" movies.
Walter (and the alternate versions of Walter), he says, became the defining role of his career.
"When you start up in acting, you hope to be given challenges and you always have dreams about the things you could do, but normally you get pigeonholed," he says. "I had sort of been pigeonholed as a heavy, almost a baddy.
"So it was wonderful to play a character who had so many colors, to play comedy, to play incredibly vulnerable, to play the love story, to play the relationship with the son. That's been a gift to me as an actor. It was like everything you could possibly hope for. I was a very lucky actor."
Looking forward, he's quite certain that he'll remain friends with Jackson, Torv and Jasika Nicole (as FBI Agent Astrid Farnsworth) for years to come.
"Because I'm the older fellow there, I kind of think of them all as my kids in a way," Noble says. "I have a very special love for all of those actors, and I'll miss them. Over the five years, we were given the chance to develop some pretty close bonds, both with our characters and personally.
"It's probably a lifelong bond, I imagine."
Yet the final day on the set was not a time of tears, Noble reveals, but one of giddy joy.
"The last day was really quite fun," he recalls. "We were all kind of buoyed up. It was one of those nights that go on forever. I think we finished at 9 in the morning or something. And I can remember we all got a fit of the giggles halfway through the night, which is probably really inappropriate.
"All of us were doing a scene together and, I don't know, it was just hilarious. I couldn't get my lines out, which is very unusual for me. I just kept getting it wrong and we were all laughing.
"We had a wonderful time."